Public speaking can be frightening…
Standing alone in front of a room and having everyone staring at you is a scenario that many would describe as their worst-case work situation. You are being looked at to provide value and often, that’s when the negative thoughts begin to creep in, am I qualified to speak on this topic, I boring them, this is the worst presentation ever and my career prospects are ruined.
Mark Twain said it best when he stated:
“There are 2 types of speakers: those that are nervous and those that are liars.”
Even as a seasoned public speaker, I always get some nerves before a presentation, it’s normal and I channel it into excitement to deliver my best presentation yet.
When you get butterflies, teach them to fly in formation.
I would like to share a secret with you that boosted my public speaking ability. You are your biggest critic, once you believe that you can present well, your confidence will show through and the audience will trust you. This shift in mindset will empower you to stand in front of a room and own it. You will adopt the belief that what you say will benefit everyone in the audience, they are not bored, but engaged.
Steps To Command A Room:
1. Drop your voice an octave lower. It’s common for nervous speakers to raise their pitch, this makes you seem younger and less confident.
2. Own It. Recognize that you belong there and were asked to speak, you have a valuable contribution to make. The key is to get out of your own way.
3. Stand like a Champ. Imagine you’re a top speaker, how are they standing? They would stand tall, shoulders back, head up, arms open, and weight firmly ground in their feet. Now visualize yourself being this speaker and replicate their stance.
4. Don’t Waste Words. Nervous speakers ramble, adding words that bore the audience. Write down your top points to make and stick to them. Adding a story to illustrate a point is great, make sure it’s relevant. I always imagine the audience has ADD, get to the point or risk losing them.
5. Slow And Steady. When nervous, speakers rush in a futile attempt to end their suffering quicker. It doesn’t work! The audience needs time to digest your information, pausing allows this and gives you a chance to prepare your next point, its a win-win.
6. Change Your Pitch. A monotone deliver will lull your audience to distraction and possibly to sleep. We need variety, look at a roller coaster, it builds up, rushes down, then goes half-way. You’re kept guessing and this excites you, public speaking is no different, keep your audience guessing, this will keep their energy and engagement up.
7. I’m Talking About Practice. There is no substitute for repetition to refine your skills and ability to command a room. The most beneficial mindset for me has been to view each presentation as an opportunity to improve, it won’t be perfect, but is getting me there 🙂